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Tread Ripper w/ Clutch

GI Joe: Retaliation
by yo go re

Vehicle expert Clutch puts the Tread Ripper Tank into high gear against Cobra HISS tanks and blasts them with high-powered missile fire!

In the movie, it was Roadblock who drove this little tank, but the toy's silly holsters keep him from fitting in the cockpit.

Yes, the Tread Ripper is based on a real vehicle, the Ripsaw tank, a military concept created by Howe and Howe Technologies. The real Ripsaw is flatter than this toy (which is higher in the front than in the back), but there's a reason for that: way down deep inside, at its core, this toy is a re-shell of the Pursuit of Cobra HISS Scout!

It doesn't look like a simple repaint, though. The treads are a completely different style (molded, not rolling), and there's a green roll cage over the cockpit. Granted, to really look like the Ripsaw, the Tread Ripper would need armored plates, not big, wide open "put bullets here" gaps. Plus, despite their different shape, the sculpt of the treads (as well as the various support structures seen on the sides) is taken directly from the real-world vehicle, and that's cool.

The Tread Ripper is about 7" long, 3⅝" wide, and 4¾' tall, counting the guns on top. That makes it a perfect size for the figures - Roadblock may not fit in the driver's seat, but he'll look great standing on top of the tank aiming his gun (as seen in one of the memorable images from the film). The mounted weapons include a Gatling gun and a missile launcher, which both bump against each other when you try to move them, and handily prevent you from opening the cockpit. Fortunately, they're very easily removed.

Since Roadblock doesn't fit through the door, somebody's got to drive this thing, and it turns out that somebody is Clutch. There was already a movieverse version of Clutch introduced during the Pursuit of Cobra line (driving the updated VAMP, appropriately enough), but that was just a repaint - this figure is all-new!

Of course, that may sound more impressive than it really is: remember, this is a Retaliation release, and the Retaliation vehicle drivers only had five points of articulation. We're fine with that, because (as stated in the Swamp-Viper review) drivers spend most of their time sitting in their vehicle; it's really no difference if this figure has knees and elbows, because he'd be in the same pose anyway. He's shaped perfectly to hold the two control sticks in the cockpit, and that's what really counts.

The design of the toy is really nice, though. He's wearing a plain uniform with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. There are pockets on the sides of his shins, on his thighs, and near his shoulders. There's a pistol and a knife strapped to his right thigh, and he's wearing some really ornate webgear that was probably originally intended to be a separate piece, but is here a molded part of the torso. There are more than a dozen small pockets sculpted on it, and two small packs on his back. Plus, there's a grenade for when things get tough.

Clutch was played in the film by Jim Palmer, a stuntman whose named roles usually include things like "thug" or "goon" - he was the workout dudebro who came to John Connor's defense in T2, for instance. The figure gets a new head, but it doesn't look like Palmer (that's him in the middle, between Baldy and Blondie); it's wearing a ballcap, dark glasses, and has a full beard. Since Clutch's original identifying feature was "has a beard," that makes sense, but we do feel a little bad for Palmer: he's a named character (verified by both the calendar and the trading cards), but doesn't get his face on a toy.

The Tread Ripper is a decent little vehicle, not an exact copy of the movie's Ripsaw, but close enough for government work. The $15 pricetag might be a little high for what you get, but it's been available at closeout discount stores pretty consistently since it was released. So pick it up cheap, and you'll enjoy it more.

-- 07/17/15

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